We all want to protect our children from all the dangers that today’s society brings. But one you may not even know existed is called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries. Many of you may think that baby teeth aren’t very important because they are temporary, but that is surely not the case. Baby teeth play a very important role in a child’s development. They hold the place for permanent teeth to come in straight, they help children chew and speak clearly, and they allow children to have that heart-warming smile that they all have.
What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay is usually caused when the baby teeth come in contact with sugary liquids frequently, or for a prolonged period of time. These sugary liquids include, but are not limited to milk, formula, and fruit juices, which most of us give to our children without a second thought. Another cause for the decay is when a parent dips their pacifier in honey, sugar, or syrup. Every time an infant ingests sugar, their teeth come in contact with those bacteria that produce the acid that leads to tooth decay. The risk worsens when they come into contact with sugar right before a nap, as the mouth dries out while they are sleeping. These bacteria thrive in a dry mouth, leading to a higher risk of cavities(decay). The cavities usually occur in their upper front teeth, but other areas can be affected.
How can I prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
The good news is that tooth decay is easily preventable with good oral home care, good eating habits, and regular visits to the dentist. Prevention methods include:
- Start to brush your children’s teeth with a child-sized toothbrush and water, without toothpaste, as soon as their first tooth comes in.
- Don’t allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, or juice. If your child must have a bottle while they are sleeping, replace the sugar liquids with water.
- Wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a clean washcloth after each feeding, and massage the gums in the areas without teeth.
- Floss your children’s teeth once they have all come in.
- Change from a bottle to a sippy cup sooner rather than later, usually be their first birthday. But don’t switch too soon, as the sucking motion that the baby gets from using the bottle helps to develop facial muscles.
- If you get your water supply from a well (well water is not fluoridated), make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, as that helps strengthen the enamel of teeth, which protects the teeth against cavities.
- Schedule your child’s first dental appointment around their first birthday so that we can evaluate their baby teeth, and get them accustomed to coming to our office.
Remember that staring early with good oral home care habits, good nutritional choices, and regular visits to our office for professional cleanings and examinations is the key to a lifetime of good oral health. If your children have not been in for their first visit to our office, or if they have been, and are due for their checkup, we encourage you to call today or go to our website at www.legacydentalgroup.com to schedule an appointment with us. We would be happy to assist you in keeping your children’s teeth as healthy as possible for the rest of their lives. For more information on nutrition and your baby visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.